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Relational mapping in symbolic tasks by young children

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Title: Relational mapping in symbolic tasks by young children
Author(s): Marzolf, Donald Paul
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): DeLoache, Judy S.
Department / Program: Psychology
Discipline: Psychology
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Early Childhood Education Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive
Abstract: Understanding and using symbols such as letters, numbers, pictures, and maps are crucial for one's full participation in society. Thus, one of the most important developmental challenges facing young children is the mastery of numerous symbol systems. One way in which we use symbols is as a source of information about their referents. This requires (1) an appreciation of the higher-order symbol-referent relation (i.e., that the symbol stands for the referent) and (2) mapping information from one to the other. Using a road map to navigate, for example, requires (1) understanding that the map corresponds to a particular location in the real world and (2) mapping the lines and figures on the map onto the real roads and buildings that they represent. The goal of the present research was to investigate the nature young children's ability to map relational information between a symbol and its referent. Mapping multiple relations is a crucial component of using many types of symbols, including maps, schematics, orthographies, musical scores, calendars, and mathematical formulas. In eleven studies reported here, 3-year-old children were presented with an object retrieval task in which they were required to find a toy hidden in a room based on where they saw a miniature version of the toy hidden in a scale model of the room (or shown in a picture of the room). The toy was hidden in one of four identical white boxes, which were distinguishable only by their relations with landmarks. Thus, to map between the spaces, children had to represent and coordinate multiple relations (i.e., the higher-order model-room relation, the toy-box relation, and the box-landmark relation). Children's consistent performance across studies indicated that they did represent the necessary relations, yet failed to coordinate them to map between the spaces. Several additional experiments indicated that their poor performance reflected their limited capacity to represent and coordinate multiple relations: When the relations were removed, simplified, or changed, their performance improved. The current findings are considered in terms of a broader conceptual model of symbol understanding and use. Implications for other types of reasoning and future directions for research are discussed.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/19053
ISBN: 9780591088724
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Marzolf, Donald Paul
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9702602
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9702602
 

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